Softball Travels to Cowgirl Challenge - University of Oklahoma (2024)

NORMANNo. 1/1 Oklahoma Softball travels to the Cowgirl Challenge hosted by McNeese State this weekend to play a five-game slate in Lake Charles.

The Sooners (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) begin competition on Friday, Feb. 16 with a 3:30 p.m. CT start against Central Arkansas (1-4, 0-0 ASUN) followed by a 6 p.m. first pitch vs. McNeese (4-1, 0-0 Southland). OU meets Lamar (2-2, 0-0 Southland) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 then faces McNeese at 6:30 p.m. OU closes their appearance in Louisiana with an 11 a.m. CT first pitch on Sunday, Feb. 16 against Central Arkansas.

Both games against McNeese State will be streamed on ESPN+ ($) while the Sooners' contests with Central Arkansas and Lamar can be viewed via webcamonSoonerSports.comwith radio coverage on The Franchise. All five games will be broadcast on 1560 AM/103.3 FM The Franchise 2 with both McNeese State contests also airing on 107.7 FM The Franchise.

Both Central Arkansas and McNeese State earned trips to the NCAA Tournament last season. UCA was eliminated in the Tuscaloosa Regional while the Cowgirls lost out in the Seattle Regional.


OU went 4-0 at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge over opening weekend, extending their NCAA-record win streak to 57 games dating back to last season. The Sooners improved to 10-2 all-time in Puerto Vallarta and outscored their four opponents 31-6.

Oklahoma earned their first two ranked wins of 2024 last weekend by downing No. 9/11 Duke 3-0 and No. 10/7 Washington 4-3 in eight innings.

The OU lineup produced 7.75 runs per game, batting .327 with eight home runs and a 1.027 OPS over the four games.

Alyssa Brito slashed .417/.533/1.167 for a 1.700 OPS with three home runs and five RBIs to earn most-outstanding-player honors. Kelly Maxwell and Kasidi Pickering joined her on the all-tournament team.

Maxwell went 2-0 in her two appearances and logged 7.2 scoreless innings while Pickering hit a team-leading .455 and drove in seven runs.

Oklahoma's pitching staff allowed just three earned runs, recording a 0.78 staff ERA, and limited opponents to a lone extra-base hit in 109 plate appearances. Opponents batted .186 with a meager .464 OPS on the weekend.


Graduate left-hander Kelly Maxwell was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week following her terrific debut weekend with the Sooners, the conference announced Tuesday.

Maxwell made two appearances for OU at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, earning wins over No. 9/11 Duke and No. 10/7 Washington to help Oklahoma to a 4-0 appearance south of the border. The graduate student spun 7.2 scoreless innings over her two outings, striking out four while allowing just four base runners on a hit, two walks and a hit batsman. Opponents batted just 1-for-23 (.043) off Maxwell as she held hitters to a .197 OPS.

The southpaw made her Oklahoma debut on Feb. 8 against Duke and earned the win with 5.0 scoreless frames of one-hit ball. Maxwell closed her first start with the Sooners by retiring 11 consecutive batters and recorded two strikeouts on the afternoon.

Called out of the bullpen with runners on the corners and one away in the sixth inning on Feb. 9 vs. Washington, Maxwell proceeded to escape the jam with a pair of soft ground-ball outs. She then held the Huskies' lineup scoreless over 2.2 innings of stellar relief, retiring eight of nine faced with a pair of punch-outs to earn the win.

Maxwell recorded both her 70th collegiate win and 750th career strikeout against Washington and became the first pitcher to win her first two appearances with OU since Nicole May did so in 2021.


Maxwell's phenomenal debut was just one among plenty of impressive opening weekends for the newest members of Oklahoma Softball.

Graduate right-handed pitcher Karlie Keeney appeared in three games and fired 6.2 scoreless innings, scattering three hits and a walk while striking out three. The Liberty transfer recorded a save on opening day against Utah Valley and earned the win over Long Beach State by retiring each of the 13 batters she faced.

One of the weekend's biggest hits came off the bat of graduate catcher Riley Ludlam as the Furman transfer laced a game-tying RBI single to right-center in the sixth inning of the Sooners' win over Washington. Ludlam produced three RBIs in her three plate appearances with the clutch single, a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk.

Sophom*ore right-hander Paytn Monticelli served as a key relief option for OU, tossing 3.0 shutout frames over her three appearances. Monticelli struck out a pair and allowed just two baserunners on a hit and a walk.

Freshman outfielder Kasidi Pickering launched a grand slam in her first collegiate at-bat and closed her debut weekend hitting .455 with seven RBIs. The first-year Sooner was named to the all-tournament team and is the current OU leader in batting average, hits and RBIs.

Fellow freshmen Ella Parker and Maya Bland each provided key moments for OU in their debut weekends. Parker went 3-for-9 (.333) at the dish and reached base at a .538 clip while Bland scored three times as the Sooners' top pinch-runner.


The Sooners' 4-3 victory over Washington on Feb. 9 extended their winning streak to 56 games dating back to Feb. 24, 2023, establishing a new record for the longest winning streak in NCAA history. OU's 56th consecutive win broke the previous all-division record held by then-Division II program Western Kentucky. Oklahoma's win streak currently stands at a NCAA-record 57 games.


Head coach Patty Gasso moved into third in NCAA history with her 1,458th career win in OU's victory over Duke on Feb. 9, passing Margie Wright (Fresno State). Carol Hutchins (Michigan) is the all-time leader in career wins with 1,707 while Mike Candrea (Arizona) is second with 1,674. Gasso leads all active NCAA coaches with 1,460 career wins.


OU is a combined 24-2 all-time against McNeese State (14-2), Central Arkansas (9-0) and Lamar (1-0) entering the Cowgirl Challenge.

The Sooners last met McNeese at the Houston Classic in 2022, outscoring the Cowgirls 26-1 in a pair of five-inning run-rule wins. Oklahoma hasn't faced Central Arkansas since the 2015 Norman Regional, run-ruling the Bears 8-0 in five, and defeated Lamar 12-2 in five at the 2016 Sportco Kick Off Classic in Las Vegas, the lone meeting between the two programs.

OU right-hander Karlie Keeney has extensive experience against Central Arkansas from her time at Liberty, making four starts last season against her now-former conference rival. Keeney owns a 2.59 ERA across 27.0 innings vs. the Bears, going 1-3 in her four outings.

For updates and more information on Oklahoma softball, follow the Sooners on Twitter/Xand Instagram (@OU_Softball) and likeOklahoma Softballon Facebook.

Softball Travels to Cowgirl Challenge - University of Oklahoma (2024)
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